Four year jail term for sexual assault of 10-year-old girl

Judge orders abuser to stay out of North Kerry for six years

A 57-year-old Kerryman has been ordered to stay out of North Kerry for six years after he completes a 30 month jail term as part of the penalty for sexually abusing a vulnerable ten year old girl on two separate occasions.

The man, who can't be named to protect the identity of his victim, had denied a total of four counts of sexually assaulting the young girl on various dates in 2014 and 2015 but he was convicted of two counts by a jury following a five day trial in Cork Criminal Court last November.

The man, who had been acquitted of two other charges on the direction of the trial judge, had been remanded in custody for sentence on February 21st when, after hearing a synopsis of the case, Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin imposed a four year term with the final 18 months suspended.

A garda witness told the sentencing hearing how the girl was doing her homework at the kitchen table when the man, who was a relative of her foster mother, came into the house and put his hand up under her t-shirt and began groping her breast.

The second offence occurred when the girl was staying at the man's house. She was sleeping upstairs on a mattress when he came into her room late at night, wearing only a pair of boxer shorts and socks, and lay down on the top of the girl who was lying face down on the mattress.

The girl told interviewing gardai that the man had "got into bed with me and got on top of me and he started moving… He started moving up and down. He did have his boxers on. I think they were browny- black. He was in the centre of my back. No one else was there.

"I did scream. I kicked him with my heel. When he got off me he said 'Don't tell anybody'. He walked normally downstairs. It felt weird on my back, like a rock or something. He started mumbling, he said, 'Don't tell anyone'," said the girl who was wearing a pink hoodie at the time of the assault.

The jury heard that the man denied the accusation when it was put to him by gardai during interview after he was arrested and questioned. "I done nothing to her. I haven't been near the child. I never did it," he told gardai. He maintained that position even when the gardai put it to him that forensic scientists had found his semen on the girl's hoodie. "If they say it was found on it I cannot argue with it. What I am saying is that on the night - or any other time - I never interfered with that child."

The girl, who testified by video link during a five day trial at the Washington Street Courthouse in Cork in November, wasn't in court last week for the sentencing hearing but a victim impact statement was read out by the investigating garda on her behalf.

In the statement, the girl, who is now aged 14, told how she was scared that she would see the man around their home place in North Kerry and how she had harmed herself by hitting her arms against walls and doors due to anxiety and stress caused by the sexual assault.

Cross-examined by defence counsel, Tom Creed SC, the investigating garda confirmed that the man had no previous convictions prior to these two offences and he had moved out of the North Kerry area after he was charged but prior to the matter coming to trial.

Judge O Donnabhain said the second assault where the man lay on top of the girl was the more serious of the two offences but both represented a huge breach of trust by a man who was much older than his victim who was highly vulnerable due to a dysfunctional family background.

He believed that the headline sentence should be one of four years but given that the man had no previous convictions and had moved away from North Kerry to avoid contact with the girl, these were both mitigating factors and he was prepared to suspend a portion of the sentence.

Judge O Donnabhain said that he would suspend the final 18 months of the four years term on condition that the man would give an undertaking to stay out of North Kerry for a period of six years and would seek the permission of local gardai if he had to return there for any urgent family matter.

The accused confirmed that he was willing to give such an undertaking and he was sentenced to four years in jail with the final 18 months suspended and the sentence backdated to November 23rd when he was first taken into custody following his conviction.

There were angry scenes in the Washington Street Courthouse in Cork after the court case when relatives of the defendant accused relatives of the complainant of applauding the sentence and gardai had to intervene and restore calm after both sides sized up to each other and traded insults.